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  1. #1
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    MI - Laurie Murninghan, 16, Lansing, 9 July 1970

    Has anyone ever heard of this case?

    In the summer of 1970, the 16 year old daughter of former Lansing Mayor, Maxwell E. "Max" MURNINGHAN (18 Aug 1924 - 13 Jul 2000) and Patricia A MURNINGHAN (30 Sep 1924 - 26 Mar 1997) was working in a Lansing jewlry store. A robber entered the store and demanded money. He struck the elderly woman who was the owner or manager of the store on the head with his pistol and it discharged. Thinking that he had killed the woman, he abducted Miss Murninghan (who was the only other person reportedly in the store) and departed.

    The store manager was only injured and knocked unconcious and she gave police a description of what had happened and of the suspect. He was described as a light skinned negro in his 20's.

    A search was on for several days and was very much in the news. About a week later, Miss Murninghan's body was found in a pond some miles north of Lansing. She had been shot in the head with a small caliber pistol.

    There was much media coverage of this case in Lansing from the day of the robery and kidnapping, up through the discovery of her body and subsequent funeral. The music played at the funeral was her favorite song by Simon and Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" which had been a hit song that spring.

    To my knowledge, no one was ever arrested or convicted of that crime.


  2. #2
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    Still wondering...

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    Has anyone ever heard of this case? ... To my knowledge, no one was ever arrested or convicted of that crime.
    Above is the first posting that I made on this forum. It got no replies. I have continued to seek more information, but with no luck. My guess is that the State Journal newspaper in Lansing, Michigan might have some articles on it in microfilm files, but that it is too old to be in any kind of On-Line archive.

    I learned that the sister of this girl is living in an East Coast state. She published a paper containing memoirs of her Dad, but does not mention her sister or her sister's murder in it.

    Does anyone have any ideas about learning more on the case?


  3. #3
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    Richard I found this 2002 article. Her body was exhumed August that year to get DNA samples. They found hairs that were not hers, but nothing of the DNA results. I personally doubt the hairs came from from her murderer, but maybe more likely from those who prepared her body for burial.

    http://www.lsj.com/news/local/p_020627_dna_1a-11a.html

    Snipped:
    Detectives found new hope for solving the 1970 homicide of Laurie Murninghan, former Lansing Mayor Max Murninghan's daughter, after removing two strands of hair from her exhumed body that they believed were not hers in August. But police had to wait months to find out that the hairs were indeed not hers. Now they're being tested further at a federal lab.

    ETA: I remember that case, as I grew up not far from Lansing, and was 16 at the time also. I had cousins at MSU that I would visit.


  4. #4
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    Richard, I did a search for her on newspaperarchive.com and the only thing was the reporting of her kidnapping and then finding her body. There was no updates on arrests, suspects...

    The only thing of use in the reports I looked at were:

    There was a sketch of the robber in one story. Negro 20's with a goatee.
    It was reported that she was forced a gun point into a blue car.
    Her body was found after a 12-day search 15 miles south of Lansing, near a state game preserve, 20-feet from a road. Found by 2 boys.


  5. #5
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    Laurie D. Murninghan

    I should have mentioned that the Lansing State Journal on-line does mention Laurie Murninghan in their time-line:

    1970s timeline1970

    • July 9: Lansing Mayor Max Murninghan's 16-year-old daughter, Laurie Murninghan, is kidnapped and murdered. The case is never solved.

    Also, the following information was submitted to the Memorial Wall for Murder sometime between 18 Oct 2003 and 21 Dec 2005:

    Laurie D. Murninghan
    Lansing, Michigan
    February 18, 1954 - July 9, 1970
    Kidnapped, raped and strangled
    No charges have been filed

    Source: Memorial Wall For Murder Victims

    Link:
    http://www.angelfire.com/wa3/wall/wall2.html


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    I should have mentioned that the Lansing State Journal on-line does mention Laurie Murninghan in their time-line:

    1970s timeline1970

    • July 9: Lansing Mayor Max Murninghan's 16-year-old daughter, Laurie Murninghan, is kidnapped and murdered. The case is never solved.

    Also, the following information was submitted to the Memorial Wall for Murder sometime between 18 Oct 2003 and 21 Dec 2005:

    Laurie D. Murninghan
    Lansing, Michigan
    February 18, 1954 - July 9, 1970
    Kidnapped, raped and strangled
    No charges have been filed

    Source: Memorial Wall For Murder Victims

    Link:
    http://www.angelfire.com/wa3/wall/wall2.html
    The "time line" was published in an article which ran in the State Journal on 28 April 2005. This was the only reference to Laurie's murder. The time line was bizarre in that it only had one or two things mentioned for each year of the 1970's, including some local news, and some national news like Watergate, and Jimmy Carter being elected President. The first event listed is Laurie's abduction and murder. It would be different if the newspaper had run some sort of an article or update on the case, but this was all it ran after some 35 years.

    The Memorial Wall entry is interesting too, but this was the first time any mention was made of a rape and strangulation. It was probably an error on the part of the website, or on the part of whomever submitted it. Unless police have withheld that information for the past 35 years.
    Last edited by Richard; 12-24-2005 at 10:28 AM.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LButler
    Richard, I did a search for her on newspaperarchive.com and the only thing was the reporting of her kidnapping and then finding her body. There was no updates on arrests, suspects...

    The only thing of use in the reports I looked at were:

    There was a sketch of the robber in one story. Negro 20's with a goatee.
    It was reported that she was forced a gun point into a blue car.
    Her body was found after a 12-day search 15 miles south of Lansing, near a state game preserve, 20-feet from a road. Found by 2 boys.
    I remember seeing that sketch back in July of 1970. Do you have a link to it?


  8. #8
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    This is all I could find on this suspect... maybe someone else could find more.

    September 11, 2001
    Detectives collected hair samples from a man they say is a suspect in the 31-year-old death of Lansing’s Laurie Murninghan.

    DNA tests using the collected hair samples from the 54-year-old suspect will likely connect him to the case or clear him of any wrongdoing, said Lt. Ray Hall of the Lansing Police Department. Hall said it could take weeks or months for results to come back from the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division laboratory performing the tests.

    "This is an exciting time to work in law enforcement," Hall said. "We’re able to open up cases and determine whether there is any potential of investigation. (DNA) serves purposes to eliminate suspects and identify suspects.
    "It can bring closure for the community and the family."
    http://www.statenews.com/pbriefs.phtml?date=1000180800


  9. #9
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    Dateline on news story...

    Quote Originally Posted by Yaya
    This is all I could find on this suspect... maybe someone else could find more.

    September 11, 2001
    Detectives collected hair samples from a man they say is a suspect in the 31-year-old death of Lansing’s Laurie Murninghan.

    DNA tests using the collected hair samples from the 54-year-old suspect will likely connect him to the case or clear him of any wrongdoing, said Lt. Ray Hall of the Lansing Police Department. Hall said it could take weeks or months for results to come back from the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division laboratory performing the tests.

    "This is an exciting time to work in law enforcement," Hall said. "We’re able to open up cases and determine whether there is any potential of investigation. (DNA) serves purposes to eliminate suspects and identify suspects.
    "It can bring closure for the community and the family."
    http://www.statenews.com/pbriefs.phtml?date=1000180800
    As is so often the case with newspapers, here is a very intriguing story which tends to create more questions than answers. Of course, there was probably no "follow-up" story to say what the result of that DNA test was.

    In this particular instance, however, look at the date of the story: 11 September 2001. I doubt if anyone even read the story before the tragic events of that day swept all other news away.

    By 2001, some 31 years after Laurie Murninghan's murder, most readers of the State Journal had probably never heard of her. The article does not give any specifics of the crime and it does not identify the suspect or why he was connected with the case.

    I cannot recall a single instance of reporting on this case which did not include the catch phrase, "daughter of former Lansing mayor, Max Murninghan". Like she didn't have a mother or other family. And here in this article, 31 years later, they are still using that phrase to the exclusion of all other facts in the case.

    This is a case, which after 35 years of no solution, should have all facts and evidence published. It is quite likely that the person responsible for Laurie's murder continued with his life of crime and violence. He would be in his mid 50's now, and possibly could still be alive - either in a prison or at large.

    What was the actual description given at the time?
    What was the specific weapon used to kill Laurie?
    Were any fingerprints found?
    What kind of car was used?
    Was it only one person, or more who committed the crime?
    What was the result of the DNA testing?
    What other crimes of robbery, assult, or murder had been committed at around that time in the area?
    Who were the suspects?
    What was investigated as possible connections?


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yaya
    This is all I could find on this suspect... maybe someone else could find more.

    September 11, 2001
    Detectives collected hair samples from a man they say is a suspect in the 31-year-old death of Lansing’s Laurie Murninghan. ... http://www.statenews.com/pbriefs.phtml?date=1000180800
    I have looked and have not found any follow-up story in the past five years to indicate what the DNA testing results were. The State News is the Michigan State University newspaper. Strange that they alone would have had the information reported on, and not other newspapers.

    I sent a message to the Editor in Chief of the State News, asking for an update or more information .


  11. #11
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    All Information obtained from News Paper Archives:

    What was the actual description given at the time? Police are looking for a light skin slim Negro male, about 25 years old, 6 feet 170 lbs. with a moustache and goatee, dressed in a yellow knit shirt and dark slacks in connection with the slaying.

    What was the specific weapon used to kill Laurie? Several weeks later, the county coroner attributed death to strangulation. (The gunman, who robbed the gift shop of $64 and struck its proprietor, Mrs. Christine Gallagher, over the head with his revolver before kidnapping Miss Murninghan.)

    What kind of car was used? He reportedly left the scene with his victim in blue and white car.

    Was it only one person, or more who committed the crime? Only one person was seen.

    Who were the suspects? No suspects have been named. A man in Chicago was arrested after calling Laurie’s family asking for money, but later found to be a con man. Not connected to the abduction and murder.

    Richard: The Coroner said, There was no indication of whether the girl had been sexually assaulted. The body was badly decomposed.

    Based on this statement by Police I'm not sure if the description of the suspect is reliable.
    Kitty-corner from the shop at a small shopping plaza, several shoppers were conducting their daily business at a grocery store, delicatessen, bank, drug store and Laundromat. Only a few feet from the Gallagher shop, traffic flowed down Logan Street, a major north-south thoroughfare that intersects Saginaw Street. In spite of the time of day and the number of people in the immediate vicinity, the police discovered only one eye- witness to the crime. Mrs. Gallagher, a kindly, gray-haired woman, with eyesight so poor that she peers out of extra-thick lenses which make her eyes appear twice their size. She is the owner of the gift shop.
    Stymied, police distributed throughout the country a picture of the missing girl taken only hours before she left for work that morning and a composite drawing of the gunman based on Mrs. Gallagher's description.




  12. #12
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    I will work on these questions tomorrow.

    Were any fingerprints found?
    What was investigated as possible connections?
    What other crimes of robbery, assualt, or murder had been committed at around that time in the area?


  13. #13
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    Reply from Editor of State News...

    The Editor in Chief of the MSU State News replied to my inquiry to state that he did not know anything further about the case than what was in the 11 Sept 2001 article. He suggested that I contact police.

    Sent an inquiry to Michigan State Police forensics lab.


  14. #14
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    Reply from Michigan State Police

    In January I sent an inquiry to the Michigan State Police inquiring about results from DNA testing mentioned in the 2001 article quoted above.

    Here is the reply to my inquiry of the Michigan State Police regarding this case:

    Quote >> Your email has found it's way to my office via the MSP Webmaster. I'm sorry to report that we do not have any information on the Laurie Muringhan homicide that we can release at this time.

    I would suggest that you contact the Lansing Police Department for information as this case file belongs to them.

    Lansing Police Department 517-483-4600

    I aoplogize that we are unable to provide any other information or further assistance at this time. << unquote.


  15. #15

    Laurie Murninghan

    I am the brother of Laurie and have just discovered these postings. I only wish that I had seen them at the time, I could have answered your many questions about her case. It has been a frustrating, and lonely crusade of mine to expose the injustice done in resolving Laurie's murder.
    You have all posted valid, and logical questions that, for the most part, have gone unanswered by authorities, (or have been deflected to another agency).
    Laurie's case is the proverbial hot potato that authorites only wish goes away.

    1) The identity of Laurie's killer was known to police within twenty-four hours of her abduction on July 9, 1970. He was a drug informant that authorities had released from prison in January of 1970. Within a month of his release, this informant had taken two 14 year old girls from Lansing to a Flint, Michigan hotel room, where he and a friend of his raped them. It appears that while in Flint, Laurie's murderer had temporarily left the room to, presumably, make a drug deal. The father of one of these girls filed a complaint with the Lansing Police and the suspect was actually picked up and detained, but released soon after the case was turned over to the state police. He wasn't even returned to prison for a parole violation.
    Despite the news reports at the time, within days after Laurie's abduction, the suspect was arrested and held for aproximately ten months in the Ingham County Jail on these rape charges from the Flint fiasco. During his incarceration, the suspect admitted to another inmate that he had killed Laurie. That fact was forever buried until the September 11th article that revealed it. This was only after the search warrant for the suspects DNA was unsealed a month after her exhumation.
    At that time, police stated that the DNA samples had already been sent to the FBI lab for testing. Approximately six weeks later, the Lansing State Journal printed a follow up query that the police were still waiting on the results. Then, in November after another follow up, the police stated that because of 9/11, they actually hadn't yet submitted the samples to the FBI, but instead, intended to send them to a Department of Defense Lab.
    Much later, I finally was able to get an answer from the Ingham County Assitant Prosecuter in charge of Laurie's case that the test results were inconclusive, (and that the sample had been used up in the testing).

    2) Despite previous reports that Ms. Gallagher was the only eyewitness, there were at least four others that witnessed the actual abduction when the suspect left the gift shop with Laurie and took her to his car that was parked up the block in a neighboring business lot.

    I could go on and on about the many strange facts surrounding my dear sister's death, questions that go unanswered and only reveal more questions. I have the arrest record for the suspect, as incomplete as it is, that reveals an exstensive criminal history that only results in dropped charges and little, if no, jail time. This record is not only from Michigan but extends into the Toledo area as well. Even in Ohio, his numerous arrest went unpunished. The few Ohio crimes he was convicted of were disposed of with a "suspended sentence." Admittedly, many of these crimes were minor, but there were some attempted murder and armed robbery charges that still just seem to get lost in the system.
    Authorities finally admitted to me, back in 1990, that they always knew who killed Laurie, they just never had the proof to convict him. If this were true, wouldn't they do everything possible to nail his ass on any subsequent crimes he's committed? They also told me back then that they believed the suspect had been killed back in 1986, so there was nothing more to be done about it. The suspects record that I would later obtain revealed several Lansing arrests in the early 1990's, and over 50 (yes, 50!) in Toledo throughout the rest of that decade. Apparantly, he recieves the protection from all levels of government.
    Despite the FBI having been actively involved with Laurie's case back in 1970, they claimed in 2000 to not even having a case file on her murder. Another source would later reveal to me that there was no record of any DNA testing conducted on Laurie's case by any federal lab; FBI, Department of Defense, none of them.
    While I continue to struggle with my own alcoholic demons, I believe the only way justice will ever be served is by national attention being focused on Laurie's case. The local, (and beyond) authorities have succeeded in spinning off any serious inquires without being caught in their own web of lies. The local media has little investigative ability to conduct a more thorough inquiry. Its not just the "blue wall of silence" at play, but a collaboration of our entire Law and Order system. And, frankly, it scares the hell out of me.

    I look forward to any and all responses.


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